Monday, February 20, 2012

Finding inspiration in everyday opportunities...

  Somtimes hard work pays off as I was recently sent to Spain as part of my job.  My hotel was located in the city center of Madrid.  While my journey included long days of work I was able to squeeze in a few hours playing tourist.  Having traveled quite a bit with my siblings and also having been guided by my resourceful parents I have learned not to take time for granted and did some planning prior to my departure.
  Every time I travel I am always seeking inspriation or a piece of knowledge that will advance my art skills and in turn allow me to improve my woodcarving abilities.  Having grown up outside Chicago where typical field trips as a kid were to the exciting museums that can be found there to this day I became hooked and usually do not pass up the opportunity to visit a museum when arriving at a city.  In the case of Madrid my choice was to visit the Museo Nacional del Prado museum or simply called the Prado museum.  With my limited knowledge of the Spanish language, a simple translation book and a map provided by my hotel I set out on foot for a 4 hour adventure.  Once I arrived I was pleasantly surprised to find out that for this particular day admission was free and that is a good thing as the dollar does not buy you many Euros these days. I spent
almost 4 hours in the museum looking at a couple hundred paintings but was struck not by the many brightly colored works but rather by Francisco de Goya's el negro (black) paintings.
  The picture above is "Two old men eating".  As you can see the tones are very dark, thus the paintings aforemention classification.  While the brush strokes are not well refined the images are quite deep and expressive.  I stood about 15 ft. away and was amazed at how he was able to express so much with such
simplistic strokes.  Seeing these paintings was like finding a needle in a haystack as most of the other paintings in the museum while of excellent quality seemed repetitive and the "el negro" paintings were something completely different and made you just want to sit and study.
   While the rest of the week was filled with meetings and socializing with my global colleagues on the last day I did have a few hours of daylight left and decided on one last adventure.  The day of course was not ideal as the temperatures were around 50 with a stiff wind making it feel much colder.  I had to make a choice either go to another art museum or take a walk to a very large park in the center of the city.  I decided on the latter and the need to take some pictures.   Now you have to understand that most Spaniards consider Madrid to be quite modern as its buildings are not that old but everywhere you turn there are sculptures and within the sculptures are images worth recording and studying like the picture shown below.

  I can only hope I get to see more.  I will definitely plan to take more time if the future allows another trip as there is so much to see and do. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Building Character

  As I continue my development and establish what I hope is my carving identity I continue to study all variables to the human form and continue to work on expression and flow.  The carving at the left is a study bust done in this process.  For this bust I wanted to push my envelope by working on hair, eyebrows, head proportions, and expression. 
  Along the way I have studied with many a carver as well as study carvings looking for something I have missed.  For those who are new to Caricature Carving,  you will find that your style will be a composite of all who have influenced you along the way.  Eventually you will settle on how you would like to do it and you will find that after a while most carvers will be able to identify your work just by examining a carving. 
  As most of you know a carving is made up of several cuts that combined as a whole create the composite.  A good example of this is the use of triangle cuts at the corners of the mouth.  Good use of these cuts make the mouth more believable and realistic.  When creating carvings I strive to make all the components believable.  I have found that if I examine a carving I can easily be distracted from the carvings composition by something that "ain't just right".  When this occurs the I am unable to focus on the message.  This can turn a humorous composition to just an okay piece.  In the case of the carving above I am satisfied with the overall look however when it comes to expression the eyes are the centerpiece and on this carving they appear devoid of emotion, that was not what I was going for.  This is something to work on...